a public place. *yawn*
We won't mess with Texas. Just keep those guns coming, Cowboys.
Anyway, now that the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration is over, we can focus on the reaction to the crowning of his Oness for his second term.
I have read a lot of articles and listened to numerous wingnut pundits bemoan the tone of the president's speech. Too partisan, too progressive, too liberal, and too angry. "It was a call to arms for the left. He didn't uplift and inspire us, he was no Lincoln". Whatever.
The essay that got most of my attention was written by Michael Gerson for the Washington Post. In it he declared that Obama "shoved idealism into its grave."
"The compression of these ideological mood swings into four years has left an impression of political instability, perhaps bipolarity. Both parties overreach. Their tone is often frantic and overheated. They focus mainly on energizing the faithful rather than persuading the undecided.
Such polarization has deep roots. Parties, communities and regions have sorted themselves by ideology, producing citizens who operate in separate partisan worlds. Partisan media outlets succeed through the reinforcement and exaggeration of grievances. Most House members represent safe districts in which their greatest political fear is offending those who vote in primaries.
What can a presidential inaugural address do to oppose these centrifugal forces? Probably not much. Maybe admit some mutual fault and call for a new beginning. Maybe direct attention to unifying national values beyond current controversies. Maybe just assert the moral duties of kindness and civility we owe each other in a democracy.
This year, however, the influence of such a speech remains untested because it was not attempted. President Obama set an unobjectionable goal: “a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.” He asserted that this objective can only be achieved “together, as one nation, and one people.” But he proceeded to define an agenda, in some detail, that could have been taken from any campaign speech of the 2012 election. It involves the building of roads and research labs, promoting clean-energy technology, protecting entitlements from significant change, passing equal-pay legislation and immigration reform.
Those who oppose this agenda, in Obama’s view, are not a very admirable lot. They evidently don’t want our wives, mothers and daughters to “earn a living equal to their efforts.” They would cause some citizens “to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.” They mistake “absolutism for principle” and
“substitute spectacle for politics” and “treat name-calling as reasoned debate.” They would have people’s “twilight years . . . spent in poverty” and ensure that the parents of disabled children have “nowhere to turn.” They would reserve freedom “for the lucky” and believe that Medicare and Social Security “sap our initiative,” and they see this as “a nation of takers.” They “deny the overwhelming judgment of science” on climate change, don’t want love to be “equal” and apparently contemplate “perpetual war.” [Source]
I must be missing something here. Gerson admits that there is extreme polarization, partisanship, and ideological extremes in the country, and yet it's president Obama who must reach out to his political enemies and take the high road? I have a newsflash for Mr. Gerson; President Obama won the election. I think he tried being a nice guy but that didn't work out so well for him. His political opponents deeply despise him on a personal level, and they will never meet him half way, so why should he reach out to them?
"For Abraham Lincoln, even the gravest national crimes involved shared fault. For Obama, even the most commonplace policy disagreements indicate the bad faith of his opponents. In his first inaugural address, George Washington described the “sacred fire of liberty.” In his second, Obama constructed a raging bonfire of straw men.
This will, no doubt, please the president’s strongest supporters, who are grateful that he has given up the pious balderdash of bipartisanship. They welcome his sharper political edge. They describe him as “wiser,” “wary” and more realistic about the unchangeable obstructionism of his opponents. "
Sorry Mr. Gerson, those men are not made of "straw", they are very real. His opponents are showing "bad faith". Where have you been for the past four years when they were refusing to shake his hand and shouting him down in the middle of his State of The Union Address? Oh, and let's not forget how they remained silent while leaders of their party questioned his legitimacy.
Dana Milbank joined the ranks of the clueless and uninformed by writing pretty much the same thing. Obama was "preaching to the choir" he declared.
"President Obama began his second inaugural address with a reminder that this ceremony, like the 56 inaugurations before it in U.S. history, was a unifying symbol.
“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution,” he said from the West Front of the Capitol, his voice echoing across the Mall, where hundreds of thousands of people waved American flags. “We affirm the promise of our democracy.”
Thus ended the warm-courage-of-national-unity portion of the proceedings.
What followed was less an inaugural address for the ages than a leftover campaign speech combined with an early draft of the State of the Union address. Obama used the most visible platform any president has to decry global-warming skeptics who “still deny the overwhelming judgment of science.” He quarreled with Republicans who say entitlement programs “make us a nation of takers.” He condemned the foreign policy of his predecessor by saying that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” the president informed his opponents.
Not that they were listening.
George W. Bush declined to join former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at the ceremony (Bush’s father missed it, too, although he has been in poor health.) Mitt Romney sent regrets and, it appeared, the vast majority of House Republicans skipped the proceedings as well.
With Republican citizens also shunning the event, the crowd gave huge cheers for liberal favorites .." [Source]
I think that Mr. Milbank should take the time to read his own essay again. This time I hope he focuses on the part where he says that republicans were missing and were not even listening.
Yes, President Obama was "preaching to the choir"; he had to. It's pretty hard to preach to someone who won't even come into your church.